I just finished teaching a class on leaf shapes to a pre-K class of children. I teach kids almost everyday and the topics run the gamut from earth science to physics to photography. Some days things move along so smoothly and other days it is a real struggle to just get through one hour of instruction. Today was one of those days. The children were nearly clueless about trees, had no answers about why a tree was of any benefit, even the teacher who asked for the class thought she was going to have trouble because there were no trees near the school to gather leaves from – her excuse was that the school was in a light industrial area of San Jose and there were no trees. On the contrary, on my way out, I must have counted at least 10 different trees species!

On my way to today’s lesson and on the way back to my studio I drove past two radar gun speed traps with police officers pulling cars over from the side of the road. On my way back I thought I was being pulled over as an officer jumped out in front of me and started waving to pull over. Relieved was I when he pointed to a car behind me and in another lane. With my heart racing I had to calm myself down and was a bit overwhelmed by the world that we have made for ourselves.

I guess I should not be surprised.  We move along in our mechanized vehicles at breakneck speeds never taking the time to just look at any of the natural wonders that surround us.  Actually you can’t while in our sound proof rolling isolation chambers, because if we take our eyes off the road for any reason, even for a split second, we will end up splattered across the roadway in a million pieces!

We have all but completely isolated ourselves from the natural world.  We watch “Sunrise Earth” on cable television in HD instead of actually going out in the morning to watch the sun actually come up over the horizon in RD (thats Real Definition).  We tell time by the artificial circular motion of arms on a clock, or worse yet by reading a digital display of numbers on an LCD screen.  Not ever once asking what do those numbers really mean, or why do the hands on the clock actually spin in the “clockwise” direction, there is a reason for this!  Not to mention the further-removed-from-reality construct of Daylight Saving Time.  We have created an artificial world for ourselves and the longer we immerse ourselves in it, the more artificial we become.

It is well known that if we keep company with people who are ill with a communicable disease, we can become infected with that same disease.  The same is true with spiritual diseases of the heart.  Keep company with people who are misers, arrogant, and angry and don’t be surprised to find yourself acting miserly, arrogant and full of rage as well.  But these diseases have known cures and so while they are troubling, they are not with out a resolution.  What I fear is the time we spend keeping company with all the artificial non-living manufactured things that consume our time.  Will that time spent with machines make us less human?  Will we start to act in the heartless, emotionless, repetitive manner of a machine?

It is very easy to fall into this trap of seeing the world with a cynical eye.  I fall into it from time to time and it concerns me.  It is not a place that I like to be.  When it does happen, I know at that point that I have been apart from the natural world too long.  My heart races in turmoil and needs to find tranquility and peace, even if for only a short time.  Later today, I will be doing just that – finding a natural place where I can just reconnect with the real world and find some tranquility camera by my side or not.  It€™s time.  I invite you to do the same.

Tranquility, Peace, Stillness, Dog Lake, Yosemite



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